DeWitt church continues tradition of giving back

Northpointe Community Church has been up and running in DeWitt since 1840—177 years this May. “We have been blessed over the years, and I can’t thank God enough,” said lead pastor Rick Ruble. “Most churches have significant and steady growth the first 15 to 20 years, and then a plateau that lasts for a few decades occurs before decline sets in and the church eventually dies.”

The lifespan of a church is similar to that of a human, but this historical church has outlasted all of those in it’s community and in nearby areas. Last May, the church wanted to create a community service project that would help give back to the members of the DeWitt Township community. Their mission at Northpointe is to impact their neighborhoods, their workplaces, and their communities with the grace that Jesus showed.

United Auto Workers Local 602 headquarters located off the 2500 block of Michigan Ave. in Lansing Township, Mich. Photo by Casey Harrison

Local UAW branch continues history of community outreach

When 43-year-old Bobbie Ledesma was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had no idea who was going to take care of her or her son. Ledesma, a native of Saginaw, was with General Motors for almost five years when she moved to Lansing. She was transferred to the GM Lansing Delta Assembly plant and had no family in the area. Ledesma joined the United Auto Workers, or UAW, Local 602 — located in Lansing Township — and became involved with the branch’s Women’s Committee. It was Ledesma’s fellow union members that helped her beat her cancer.

Elliott Elementary School Park photo by Denise Patterson

What to do with kids after school? There aren’t many cheap options in Holt

Holt is one of the many school districts that no longer have free or affordable after-school programs. Parents that cannot afford before-and-after care are left cutting their work hours to pick up their children, leaving them home alone, or having family or friends pick them up until they are able to get off work. Unfortunately, Holt Public School District has a strict budget that does not include coverage for free after school programs at every school in the district. Parents can either switch schools or come up with a solution themselves. According to David Hornak, Holt Public Schools superintendent, “keeping in mind how the budget is set up, adding free after-school programs to each school in the district year-round is simply impossible. There has to be money to pay the staff who will lead these programs and money to feed the children who participate in the programs.”

After school programs are not meant to be “babysitters” but they are the reason why crimes committed by young people are decreasing.The lack of after school supervision put children at a higher risk to participate in criminal activity and an array of other problems that could have been prevented because of free after school programs.

Maria Sanchez mother of three Elliott Elementary boys says that she has missed several days of work this week because she is not comfortable with leaving her 8-year-old triplets home alone with the recent burglaries that has happened in the neighborhood.

The storefront of the Harold Larson Williamston Food Bank, which is located in the back of the Williamston Community Center

Food bank supports those in need in Williamston

According to 2015 estimates by the US Census Bureau, 13.5% of Americans live below the poverty line.

“We probably feed about 320 people a month,” said Jill Cutshaw, the co-director of the Harold Larson Williamston Food Bank. “It’s usually around 85 families and we try and give people seven to 10 days worth of food, but they still struggle in other ways.”

With so many people struggling to make ends meet, the Harold Larson Williamston Food Bank is there to help.

Countryside Manor Apartment complex in Bath Township, Mich.

Countryside Manor to qualify for free water heaters from Consumers Energy

Countryside Manor, a low-income housing apartment complex in Bath Township, Mich., has qualified for 30 free water heaters for all units from Consumers Energy. The water heaters are Energy Star, which brands themselves as energy efficient. Consumers Energy began an incentive program back in 2008 because of the passing of the Energy Bill that puts an emphasis on energy conservation. Consumers Energy Public Information Director Terry DeDoes said that it was a comprehensive bill that had goals of reducing pressure on the electric grid. “We have different programs to provide to different residential and industrial customers to save energy,” DeDoes said.

Members of the student group Refugee Outreach Kalamazoo at Michigan State University show up to cheer on the Newcomers youth soccer team.

Lansing area provide supports for hundreds of refugees

More 4,900 refugees have been resettled in Michigan so far in 2016, including 864 in the Lansing area, according to the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center.

That’s up from 2,714 refugees statewide in 2015, and 611 in the Lansing area.

The growth comes despite criticism of some refugee re-settlement programs. During the campaign, President-elect Donald Trump pledged to shut off immigration from Syria to stop terrorists from slipping into the country.

Yet local refugee services groups say they’re committed to continuing to help people fleeing their homelands.

Monica Jahner at her comic book shop. Jahner works with A.R.R.O., re-entry program helping ex-offenders transition into the workplace.

A box hinders ex-offenders from moving on from their past

The box was holding her back.

It was on every job application form: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Monica Jahner had to answer yes.

About 650,000 people are released from prison or jail each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. About two-thirds will likely be re-arrested. But re-entry programs are working to decrease the number of ex-offenders go back to prison. For many ex-offenders, that work starts with getting a job.